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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Surrender to God (3)


A Remodeled Life

Julie Gillies encourages women to know and believe God's Word, and share the stories of how God changes their lives. In this Uplift UPGRADE, she says we all need do-overs, and the good thing is, God is in the transforming, remodeling business!

If you’ve ever lived through a major remodeling project,” Julie says, “you probably have a serious appreciation for the hard work involved.

Oh, don't get me (Dawn) started. While landscaping our front yard in the hot sun last month, my husband sweat buckets! Remodeling anything—a yard, a house, and especially a life—is MAJOR! But the results are worth the effort.

Julie continues . . .

The way I see it, anyone can move into a brand-new house. Zero sweat equity. Instant pretty.

But remodeling takes a willing investor with a keen eye for potential—someone prepared to put a lot of hard work into a far-from-perfect building.

Done right, the results are a gorgeous old home with character, yet filled with all the new stuff you wouldn’t want to live without. The before and after photos are remarkable, and no one who visits your house can believe that it ever looked like that before.

It's truly a labor of love.

My husband, Keith, and I were crazy enough to take on such an endeavor back when we were newly married, young, and willing to invest some serious elbow grease. We had purchased a tiny two-bedroom, one-bathroom, stinky, old, sorry excuse for a house, mostly because it only cost us $55,000.

Its flat, gravel-topped roof needed replacing, the jalousie windows had to go, the scary carpet reeked to high heaven, and the hot water heater needed to be moved out of the kitchen. Add in a garage, new electrical wiring, and paint—lots of paint—and it would be habitable.

Did I mention I was pregnant when we began?

We ended up knocking down walls and adding some extra rooms. It was almost a total do-over. For seven months, we stressed, sweated, and toiled, working far too hard and sleeping far too little.

Then we watched in amazement and great satisfaction as our smelly, rinky-dink place was slowly shaped into something beautiful.

God does this very thing with us.

The Lord deeply values us, His daughters, and sees the potential that others (and often we ourselves) cannot.

He deems us worthy of His investment. His Holy Spirit pinpoints areas in our hearts and lives that need loving restoration, and He gently coaxes us to believe, surrender, and cooperate with Him.

Some of us have sagging foundations. Some of us are a slapdash paint job on rotting boards. Some of us have broken windows where thieves can crawl in.

All of us need a complete do-over.

Like the hot water heater standing awkwardly in the middle of my kitchen, we often recognize when things are out of place. We know when parts of us are broken, and yet we aren’t really sure how to change. We are powerless to make changes apart from Christ.

As the psalmist puts it, Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted” (Psalm 127:1).

Unless we partner with God by surrendering to the work He is doing, cooperating with His promptings and discipline, and doing our part by saturating our hearts in His Word and spending time with Him in meaningful prayer, our house will remain in the same sagging, sorry shape.

He’s willing. Are we?

Are we willing to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him through the intimate intricacies of deep inner heart work? Will we submit ourselves, hearts wide open, to the One who is able to renew and restore?

Because that is God’s heart for us. He knows the things that have stripped us of our hope, our trust and our dignity. And He is well able to replace all the enemy has stolen from us (Joel 2:25).

Jesus is willing to beautifully restore the years spent languishing in hurt, the broken areas we cover and attempt to hold together on our own, and the dreams we think are irretrievably dead.

When we allow God to have His way by surrendering to His process, reading His Word and truly believing it, and investing in some serious prayer time, we will live an overcoming life—a life that is not held back by issues that once plagued us. Our lives will become testimonies to those around us.

The more we allow Jesus to do in us, the more His glory is revealed. And that is His ultimate goal: a world full of regular people whose hearts and lives have been utterly transformed and radiate His unmistakable image.

Though it can be a long, arduous process, Jesus, with His keen eye, restores us to better than new. He makes us whole. We wind up beautiful, yet functional, and filled with His character.

When we share our amazing before and after stories, no one can believe that we ever lived like that before because our hearts are all sparkly and fresh and new.

It's truly a labor of love.

What area of your life do you need to surrender to the Lord so He can “remodel” you afresh?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at .

Graphic adapted, courtesty of Pixabay.


What Is Your 'Sack Lunch'?

Paula Hendricks is a young woman with a tremendous amount of insight about things that truly matter. I asked her to share this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE.

“A few years ago, I sensed God prompting me to give away a very large sum of money,” Paula said. “I did so joyfully and thought there wasn’t anything more God could possibly ask for after that.”

Oh yes. God does ask for more. And I (Dawn) am often surprised by what He asks for. He knows exactly what to ask for.

Paula continues . . .

Almost immediately, though, God laid His finger on my favorite dress—the maxi dress that pooled at my feet and made me feel tall, slender, and beautiful.

I cried.

Somehow, unbeknownst to me, that dress had wormed its way into my affections and become precious! (Definitely a warning sign.)

So I bargained with God. The dress was His, but He’d have to clearly let me know who to give it to. A month passed, and then I sensed God nudging me that it was time to give it away, and who to give it to.

It happened while the preacher was talking about how that little boy gave his sack lunch to Jesus and how Jesus multiplied it exorbitantly. 

The preacher asked if we would give our “sack lunch” to Jesus.

Right away, I knew my “sack lunch” was my beautiful maxi dress. And I was to give it to the widow beside me, who was just as tall and thin as me and needed clothes.

Trembling, I went home and put my dress in a bag. I knew if I didn’t obey right away, I would come up with excuses. That evening, I gave away my dress.

Unlike the month before when I gave a much larger gift to God, I didn’t feel giddy and happy this time. But I felt I’d obeyed.

A few weeks later, as I was pulling out my fall and winter clothes, I asked God, “Would you provide me with some new clothes? I’ve had these for years, and they’re so drab. I know I don’t need new clothes, and I should be thankful for these, but . . .”

The next morning, I received an email from a friend. She had two bags of clothes for me in her car. I went out to the car expecting to find two plastic grocery bags full. Instead, I found two bulging trash bags full of clothes! 

And not just any clothes. Clothes with tags still on them. Name brand clothes. Stylish clothes. Clothes that—for the most part—fit!

It was such an overwhelming reminder that I can never out-give God. He is the over-the-top generous One.

And I’m not the only person who’s experienced this. Years ago, a woman named Hannah wanted a baby so bad she vowed that if God would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord all the days of his life. And that’s exactly what happened. God gave her a son, and she brought him to the temple to serve God there. Sounds devastatingly hard, right? But then . . . God blessed her with three more sons and two more daughters (1 Sam. 2:21)! He’s just amazing like that. 

I tell you all this not to encourage you to give away your clothes so you’ll get new ones. I tell you this to encourage you to obey God. Even if what He’s asking hurts. Even if He’s asking for that most treasured ____.

He’s not a stingy, miserly God. If you will obey Him, He will bless you beyond your wildest imagination!

Anyone else have a “sack lunch” story you want to share?

Paula Hendricks graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 2005 with a degree in Print Communication. Two weeks later, she began working at Revive Our Hearts, where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Her first book is Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. When Paula isn’t blogging, you’ll find her hanging out with people, indulging her insatiable curiosity by asking lots of questions. 

This post is adapted from “My Sack Lunch” at Lies Young Women Believe. 


How to Take Off Your 'Junior God Badge'

Melissa Mashburn is a creative, busy pastor’s wife—perfect to share this Life and Ministry UPGRADE with us.

“Here she comes to save the day! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … it’s ... it’s just CRAZY that, in the midst of the many hats we wear as women today, we think everything relies on us to get it done,” Melissa says.

Uh huh. "Busy." That’s my (Dawn’s) middle name! And "Control Freak" is my old nickname, but I’ve learned to step back, get away from my to-do list, and ask God for my marching orders each day.

Sometimes, that looks nothing like what I’d originally planned. And sometimes, I just need to get out of the way.

Melissa continues …

In a world that celebrates achievement and getting things done, how do we slow down the need to control every detail of our lives and walk in faith that God has a perfect plan for everything?

How do you slow down when you have:

  • the big event that you are coordinating that is projected to have five hundred people attend;
  • the open house that you are planning all the details for;
  • the carpools that need to be set up;
  • doctors’ appointments for the kids;
  • as well as preparing meals for the homeless, the sick and the celebrations within your church family?

Oh, sweet friend, I know exactly the burdens you carry. I live them, carry them, and wrestle with them every single day too.

My hope is that we will learn how to take off our Junior God Badge, do our part, then get out of the way and let God lead the way.

Proverbs 16:9 says,

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps" (NLT).

Yes, we need to be obedient and do our part. I am in no way advocating we step back and take our hands off everything and “hope” that God works it all out. I don’t think that is what God wants from us at all.

The Lord absolutely wants us to do our part, and then—once we’ve done all we can—we step back and say, “The rest is up to you, God.”

Right about now you may be wondering, how on earth do we do that?

1) Ask the Lord for strength and wisdom to do the work He’s given you.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5 ESV).

2) Remember Who you are working so hard for.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23 ESV).  

3) Seek the support of your friends.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity (Proverbs 17:17 NIV).  

4) Do your part, then step back and let God do His. When He does, give Him all the glory.

Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (Romans 6:13 NLT).  

Will it be easy taking off your Junior God Badge? No, it won’t. But it will be so worth it when you finally do.

There may be days when you take the badge off only to pick it back up later that same day, but that’s alright. Don’t give up, don’t give in—this will take time—but it will be so worth it when you finally lay it down and let it go.

What about you? Which of the four steps do you need to take to today to start the process of taking off your Junior God Badge?

Melissa Mashburn passionately pursues God daily, taking her ordinary life and placing it as her offering to Him. She is a writer, speaker, mom, pastor’s wife, and trained communicator through CLASSeminars, with extensive background in Women’s and Kid’s Ministry, and her passion is helping women “keep it real” in their lives and ministries. Melissa is married to her best friend, Matt (20 years), and they have two teenage boys. She loves to relax with a great book and giant cup of coffee. You can find her at Mel’s World with Melissa Mashburn.